The simultaneous release of Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS on Nov. 5, 2003 in 35mm and IMAX/15/70 represents a first for a live-action Hollywood film and the prestigious large format corporation, which is attempting to increase both its commercial appeal and profitability as a result of its aggressive repurposing strategy.
Geographical Region: Africa
DIC Consumer Products has significantly expanded its licensing/merchandising programs across Europe, Latin America, Australia, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East to gear up for the international launches of kids entertainment brands, including STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, MADELINE and SUPER DUPER SUMOS.
Donna Chandler has been promoted from asst vp to vp of Global Outreach for Sesame Workshop, responsible for managing Sesame Workshops Outreach Initiatives in the U.S., South Africa and Egypt. Chandler will also oversee the creation and management of an outreach program for Bangladesh and Brazil.
Videovision Entertainment has acquired worldwide distribution rights to THE LEGEND OF THE SKY KINGDOM. The film is the first animated feature produced in Africa and created using a method dubbed Junkmation, which employs found junk to create characters and sets. The film tells the story of a group of children who escape a cruel orphanage and embark on a quest to find the fabled Sky Kingdom. Roger Hawkins directed the film with Phillip Cunningham producing and Minali De Silva handling art direction.
Sesame Workshop has promoted Renee Mascara to vp, international TV distribution. She will be responsible for managing Sesame Workshop television program sales, including SESAME STREET co-productions. Mascara will also oversee the creation of an internal resource system measuring broadcaster data as it relates to the organizations program time slots and ratings.
4Kids Entertainment Inc. has set MIPCOM 2003 for the launch of 26 episodes of the new TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and 47 new episodes of the Japanese sensation, YU-GI-OH!
At long last, Disney's mega hit, THE LION KING, arrives on DVD Oct. 7, 2003 (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99) in a special edition worthy of the phenomenon. For starters, the two-disc set contains gorgeous transfers of both the theatrical release and the extended edition featuring the Elton John/Tim Rice song from the play, "Morning Report," digitally cleaned and enhanced in painstaking fashion by the original filmmakers from Feature Animation.
Antefilms Production has announced that it has acquired France Animation, which was previously a Wanadoo subsidiary. Each company will retain its individual identity, but the deal will allow France Animation to ramp up its production line and merges two of Europes largest animation libraries of more than 1,600 half-hours. As part of the deal, Antefilms gains France Animations established marketing and licensing prowess.
Fox Kids Europe (FKE) is taking 144 half-hour episodes of fresh programming to MIPCOM, including three new kids properties, SONIC X, TUTENSTEIN and SHAMAN KING.
FKE has acquired all TV and home video rights for the world, excluding North America and Asia, for 52 half-hour episodes of SONIC X from TMS Entertainment Ltd. This marks the first animated adaptation of the videogame and TV series hedgehog hero to be created in Japan, (DIC Ent. did the first animated TV series in the U.S.).
The Indigo Group will venture to Cannes with four new projects in tow for MIPCOM. The new projects include TOBY THE PRINCE OF WHALES, TINGUARO, BRADYS BEASTS and FREDDIE THE FROG.
Buena Vista International Television (BVITV) has promoted three members of its London, Munich and Rome-based programming sales teams.
Carsten Fink, based in Munich, has been promoted from director of sales to exec director, sales, German-speaking markets. Carsten Fink joined BVITV in 2000 from United Distributors, where he was an international sales manager. Fink leads German-speaking sales for such territories as Germany, Austria and Switzerland and reports to BVITVs vp of sales, Alison Homewood.
The U.K.s Toonami channel, dedicated to action/adventure/anime animation, has landed STAR WARS: CLONE WARS. The new 2D series from Lucasfilm and Cartoon Network Studios chronicles the adventures of the STAR WARS heroes during the events that directly follow EPISODE II. The third Cartoon Network channel in Europe, Toonami, started broadcasting on September 8, 2003 and will begin airing CLONES on November 10. Cartoon Network will debut the new show in the U.S. on November 7. SAMURAI JACK and DEXTER'S LABORATORY creator Genndy Tartakovsky is the lead animator on the series.
In light of Morgan Creek's firing of director Paul Schrader from EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING (the production company disliked his final cut), famed novelist Caleb Carr (THE ALIENIST), who shares screenplay credit with William Wisher, gave his perspective to VFXWorld:
Celebrated writer-director Paul Schrader has been dismissed from EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING over a creative dispute with production company Morgan Creek. Reports of friction have been rampant for weeks, with the NEW YORK POST affirming that Schrader was fired in its Page Six column on Aug. 25, 2003. Warner Bros., which will distribute the prequel to the legendary horror classic, deferred inquiries to Morgan Creek, and a spokesperson there was unavailable for comment.
Finn Arnesen has been promoted from programming development chief of Cartoon Network Europe to head program production for Cartoon Network International with responsibility for all areas outside the U.S. The CN exec will be kept exceptionally busy with Cartoon Networks recent commitment of more than $500 million over five years (2003-2007) to produce original animated programming.
KING OF THE HILL has shown it is one of the top cats of primetime animation, receiving an early pickup from Fox Broadcasting Co. for a ninth season, guaranteeing the Texas toon a run through May 2005. The series, which airs Sundays in the U.S. at 7:30 pm on FOX, is in production on the 2003-2004 season, which premieres later this fall.
POW! Entertainment and DIC Entertainment have signed a joint venture development deal for a slate of original properties aimed at the kids TV market. DIC will work directly with Stan Lee and POW! to develop and produce the new animated television series. DIC will retain the rights to distribute the programs globally. First in line will be STAN LEES THE SECRET OF THE SUPER SIX -- a superhero-based animated series with a humanitarian spin that will feature Lee as a main character.
Keith LeGoy, svp of sales, Europe, at Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), was promoted to md, Latin America, relocating from London to Miami. Dorien Sutherland, who held the post at SPTI since March 1994, has left the company to pursue other interests and consulted to SPTI during the transition period.
Michael Grindon, president of SPTI, said LeGoy's most recent efforts, "have led to significant improvements in our licensing business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and he is well prepared to assume this new leadership role."
Digital effects and design studio Ring of Fire brought out the beast in the average household cat in a captivating spot for Whiskas in a clever mix of stock footage and live-action, with a few CG tricks to make viewers believe that the family feline was running down a huge water buffalo on the African veldt in a wildlife documentary.
The CNX daytime anime programming block, Toonami, has become so popular in Europe that the third kid's animation channel from the Cartoon Network stable will be rebranding under that name in September 2003.
The Toonami concept began as a programming block on Cartoon Network and was then expanded into the daytime hours on CNX. Shows like DRAGONBALL Z and X-MEN: EVOLUTION have consistently been amongst the highest rated cartoons with boys 10 to 15, the target audience for the new channel.
Walt Disney Television International promoted Michael Kreissl from managing director of Disney Channel Germany to vp, programming and production of WDTV-I, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Kreisel will continue his position with the German channel and will oversee planning of the programming schedules and production for eight Disney channels (France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Scandinavia, U.K. and Middle East) in addition to 42 Disney branded blocks across 32 countries. Kreissl reports to John Hardie, svp and managing director of Walt Disney Branded TV, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Only two days after its North American TV broadcast, WALKING WITH CAVEMEN hits the DVD shelves on June 17, 2003 (BBC Video, $19.99). The Discovery Channel/BBC co-production breaks the mold of DINOSAURS and PREHISTORIC BEASTS by combining CGI, animatronics and actors dressed in prosthetics in recreating our earliest ancestors.
In its continuing effort to embrace more commercial event films (with the cooperation of the CAA talent agency), IMAX will release Warner Bros.' THE MATRIX RELOADED in select theaters on Friday, June 6, 2003, and, for the first time, in various international venues through early July (including the U.K., Germany, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and Japan). The timing couldn't be better, as the second mind-bending film in the Wachowski Brothers' trilogy recently set a new international box office record in its opening weekend (more than $113M).
Mythic Entertainment, developer and publisher of online gaming, have announced a new expansion to their online game, DARK AGE OF CAMELOT entitled TRIALS OF ATLANTIS. The program is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2003.
"Once again Mythic is extending the world of DARK AGE OF CAMELOT," said Mark Jacobs, president/ceo, Mythic Entertainment. "Fans will be excited by the new quests, new races and Master Level system, not to mention our new graphic engine that will deliver sophisticated underwater and improved above ground visuals."